SOLIDARIDAD, Mexico — Zach Johnson’s caddie, Damon Green, was struggling with the heat in the first round of the Mayakoba Classic and stepped out after the front nine. In his place, Zach Johnson turned to a familiar face: Sybi Kuchar, the wife of good friend and playing partner Matt Kuchar.
“So, I didn’t talk too much to Damon but you could tell it was something with heat, fatigue, heat exhaustion, whatever the term is. It was really getting the best of him,” Kuchar said. Thursday’s first round at Mayakoba saw temperatures touching 90 with no wind and high humidity. After the group finished No. 18 (their ninth hole) Green tapped out.
“I knew Sybi was in the crowd, I knew she’d caddied for me before, she’s friendly with Zach Johnson. I figured she’d be a good one to handle Zach and Zach would definitely go easy on her. She knows the deal of keeping up and staying out of the way and so I knew she could handle it, she’d be good to fill in.
“I knew that Zach would probably be fairly happy to see a friendly face take the bag.”
For whatever reason, the change coincided with a shift in Johnson’s play. Although the Johnson/Kuchar tandem got off to a rough start — Johnson hit his tee ball out of play at No. 1 — he roared to the finish, making two birdies and an eagle in his last six holes to rally back to even par for the day.
Kuchar, who shared the lead after an opening 64, laughed at the sequence of events. “It’s funny how when you just have a friendly face around and just go back to playing golf and not worrying so much about making golf too complicated, some good things happen.”
Sybi Kuchar has been a long-time presence on Tour. She and Matt married in 2003 and have two sons together.